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And once more, on with the Rambling!
I always found the revelation that this episode was originally supposed to be a two-part season finale kind of interesting. There certainly is a lot here that would work perfectly for a season finale (a mass battle between our heroes and their clones/counterparts, the actual meeting between Demona and Angela), and I will personally admit that I would have LOVED for this to have been a two-parter (there's just so much crammed into this one episode!). On the other hand, it is missing an element that I would consider important to any GARGOYLES season finale: Xanatos.
Sure, he would have been a bit superfluous to this ep, but considering that the season began with him as the "main villain" it seems only natural to me that he should play some part in any finale the season might have.
Anyway, onto the episode itself….
An interesting aspect about the episode's opening shot is that it changes to a POV shot through binoculars. Now, just who was spying on our heroes here? I would have to guess, Thailog, myself. Demona's already encased in her "clever tin can" robbing the Golden Cup (you'd think the government people running the place would realize that hiding in plain sight isn't working anymore).
Demona's exo-frame has a very unique design to it--bubble cockpit, hole for her tail, etc. It's also interesting just for the fact that this is the first time she's used it, and I find myself wondering why. Up until now, she's used spells, a poison dart gun, particle beam cannons, and occasionally a mace. Now here's the exo-frame. Part of the plan, maybe? Oh well, it makes for some great action.
Animation nit: Demona electrocutes Brooklyn, and the little electric aura stays around Demona for the remainder of the fight without seeming to affect anyone else. It is a bit distracting.
I have to admit, I did misread Angela's concern for Brooklyn here, a little bit. I realize I've used the excuse of "falling back on expectations for animated action/adventure shows" before, but it really is my chief explanation for misreading things like this.
I loved the tidbit about gargoyle culture concerning their punishments (nice to finally have that). And I was pleased that Brooklyn was the one who came up with a place to keep Demona, and I knew that it would involve the Mutates. But I didn't know it was the Labyrinth. Why? Because I had still not seen THE CAGE or KINGDOM by this point and had no idea it even existed. Consequently, this was my first view of the "new" Maggie, Claw and Fang (I had seen "new" Talon in UPGRADE). Somehow, I recognized that they were in the old Cyberbiotics underground lab. I also wasn't surprised to discover that one of the Mutates was a bad guy (I saw this coming since the scene in METAMORPHOSIS where the as-yet-unnamed-Fang indicated his enjoyment of his new body). Still, it always drove me crazy that I had missed out on those stories during their first run. Ah, well….
One thing that jumped out at me on this viewing was Elisa's line, "Do you know what you're committing yourself to?" in reference to guarding Demona. It is kind of easy to miss the sheer enormity of the task they are setting for themselves (guarding an immortal sorceress around the clock).
Angela wants to take the first watch--understandable, especially since she hasn't had the same experiences with Demona the others have. Goliath, just as understandably, tries to dissuade her, which only makes her angry. In the end, Hudson showcases why he's the "wise one" by giving Angela the first watch, but with an admonition that Demona "is capable of anything." And it is that warning that Angela flashes back to over THREE MONTHS LATER when she and her clan are facing certain death because of Demona.
When Demona awakens she leaps at Angela and latches onto the bars of her prison. Angela is understandably taken aback--Demona does indeed look ferocious. She's literally climbing the bars, snarling, wings flapping…but her eyes are not glowing. A subtle hint, perhaps, that this part, at least, is an act.
I do find myself thinking that Demona's disbelief over Angela's identity is more real than feigned, even if Sevarius has already clued her in about Angela's parentage. As you've said, Greg, knowing something and experiencing it are two different things.
At this point, Angela actually perks up and starts to tell Demona about Avalon, only for Demona to rant about humans stealing away "our children." Angela tries to disabuse her of that idea and explains that the Princess is a part of her clan "just as you are." It's almost sad how optimistic Angela is about Demona. I can almost hear Angela thinking to herself, "No matter what she's done, I know I'll be the one to redeem her."
Demona, starts trying to win over Angela, even trying to guilt her into it ("If you are *truly* my daughter…").
There is something a little melodramatic about all this…which makes it a wonderful moment when Fang interrupts the mood and observes "You chicks are better than soaps!"
I love the way Fang counts the days.
Demona unleashes the mosquito and suddenly the rest of the mosquito attacks from earlier in the episode take on a more ominous tone.
I loved seeing Sevarius again (why not, it's more Tim Curry!), but Thailog! Ah, that magnificent bastard. On my first viewing, I realized by this point that we would be taking on the clones of the rest of the clan, and was quite pleased by the prospect. A little…"shadow-boxing," shall we say, is always fun.
Actually, it's amazing how calm Sevarius seems around Thailog here, considering that the gargoyle tried to kill him the previous year. Amazing what a briefcase full of money can do. Of course, Sevarius offers the fruits of his experience about "programming" the clones, "Keep it simple. You don't want to end up with another you."
And during this time, Angela is trying to talk to Demona about the latter's crimes. I love Demona's line here: "How can you judge me? You have been hiding on a magical island while I have been living in the real world." Demona may be in the wrong about a LOT of things, but that is a pretty good point.
Demona starts to change (into a human), Fang rushes to watch and after it's over remarks, "Kinky." One would think he'd be used to it by now seeing as he's been her neighbor for FIVE WEEKS!! I guess, like Elisa's reaction to the gargs' awakenings, he never gets tired of it.
Now, I have to dwell on something about this episode that is real easy to miss. It takes place over the course of THREE MONTHS. That's actually a fair amount of time if you think about it. I find myself wondering about Demona and Angela's conversations, what things were like with the other gargoyles when they stood guard (particularly Goliath, Brooklyn and Hudson), Demona's full reaction to the Mutates (man, I would LOVE to see that) and about any of the adventures going on topside.
A lot can happen in three months…then again, a lot of nothing can also happen in three months.
Anyway, eventually the "breakout" occurs and even Fang gets freed. I love his reactions when he thinks Demona's going to fry him. Not just his lines (which are good and already transcribed elsewhere) but also the fact that he tries to hide under his bed sheet! And when Demona frees him, saying that "he's a fool but he might be useful" Fang immediately pipes up, "I can work with that!"
I am intrigued by what appears to be continued tension between Goliath and Talon. When the two track the escapees to the fun house, Goliath tells Talon to stay there while he goes to get reinforcements (I doubt Goliath realized he sounded like he was giving an order). Talon doesn't seem too happy about this arrangement, though he does make the best of it (scouting the place out). When I first saw this, I had left Talon still blaming the gargoyles for his mutation; so seeing them on friendly terms was a bit of a jump for me. This moment sort of "threw me back" as it were to the previous dynamic.
Anyway, our heroes make the classic horror movie mistake of splitting up to enter the not really deserted fun house, and they pay the price.
The clones themselves are a unique bunch in that they are not exact copies of the heroes, and I'm not just referring to coloring here. Burbank looks to have slightly broader shoulders and a narrower waist than Hudson, in addition to more hair and a longer beard (and a mace instead of a sword). Hollywood (and I just KNEW Broadway's clone would be named Hollywood) seems a bit larger than Broadway, and all the clones have bits and pieces of armor that the originals don't have.
Beyond that, the new clones are even different than Thailog. While Thailog may have different skin, hair, and even eye coloring (red instead of white corneas) than Goliath, his pupils are a natural black, his teeth a natural white, and his tongue and mouth a natural red/pink color. The new clones, however, have black teeth (indicative of a black skeleton), off-white pupils (indicative to me, at least, that they might literally see the world differently) and even discolored mouths. In this way, they are even more "freakish" than Thailog. I suppose it has to do with the fact that Thailog's gestation period was nearly a year, while these guys were rushed through in about three months or so.
But I digress….
The good guys are captured, and then shackled where they regain consciousness. Apparently, Thailog and Demona didn't want our heroes dead right away. Demona obviously wanted to show off her "new clan" (and turn Angela towards her side), while Thailog, I have come to believe, was testing Demona. After all, Angela didn't have to be first, and Thailog's little revelation that Demona knew about Angela since the beginning seemed to be a little too informative for it to have been accidental. This of course incenses Angela, who shows that she takes betrayal about as well as either of her parents.
"I hate you." Angela's eyes even glowed while she said it. And it really hurts Demona, who nevertheless will still not let Thailog kill her.
Delilah is revealed, and she is perhaps the most "normal" looking clone we have seen so far. I mean, not only are her teeth, mouth, and pupils the proper colors, even the corneas of her eyes are white! She looks more natural than Thailog, in other words. Since her gestation was the same as the rest of the new clones, I can only guess that Elisa's human DNA had something to do with this.
Leaving that aside for the moment, Delilah is a VERY attractive mixture of her two "mothers," and her very presence has offered us, the fans, endless speculations about Demona's reaction to her (a hybrid of herself and that most hated human) and Thailog's reasoning in creating her (a hybrid of the two loves of Goliath's life). I also love hearing Salli Richardson doing a gargoyle roar.
The worm turns, or in this case Demona does, and sets the heroes free while she goes after Thailog (who manages to do fairly well at first considering who he's up against). The rest of the heroes mix and match their enemies-the only "counterparts" who face off against each other are Talon and Fang (who inadvertently start the fire). An interesting bit here is that, while Talon's electric blasts are the usual blue/white color all the Mutates' blasts have been up to this point, Fang's are a more red/orange color. Not that I'm complaining, I actually kind of like the distinction from an aesthetic point of view (it's kind of like the color-coded lightsabers).
There are actually some fun, comical moments with the "clone wars." Hollywood's expression just before he crashes into the "test your strength" game, and Burbank and Brentwood's crashing into each other (it doesn't just work on robots!) are particular highlights (as well as Brooklyn's rather vehement "It's all over you…FORGERY!" to Malibu).
I do wish we had been able to see more of Angela and Delilah's "cat fight." What can I say; I can be a shallow guy sometimes.
Eventually, our good guys win, though Demona and Thailog do a "did they die?" disappearing act. The clones (who have some kind of slight reverb to their voice) are lost without the one their programming tells them to obey, and the gargs aren't comfortable around them, so Talon takes them in. This makes perfect sense, seeing as how he has turned the Labyrinth into a homeless shelter, and he promises to teach them to think for themselves, "and use verbs" (a nice little bit, that).
Maybe it's because I like Brooklyn, but I was always a little disappointed that Malibu never got any actual lines.
Angela and Goliath have their moment of doubt over Demona's fate, and Angela feels awful that "I hate you" may be the last thing she ever said to her mother. Now, I admit that, since I knew Demona was going to survive, I didn't quite get into this sentiment as much as maybe you guys would have liked me to, but I did like that Goliath mentioned that Demona's love for Angela was "the first sign of goodness that she has shown in a long, long time." Even "a new beginning," perhaps.
This is a really great episode, and I hope my (extremely overlong) ramble does it justice. I just wish it could have been a two-parter--that is the only real complaint I have with this ep, and that only exists because I found out it was originally supposed to be such.
Heck, I wish EVERY episode could have been an hour instead of a half. But whachagonnado?